NEWS RELEASE: Green Elementary School Staff and Students Paint Kindness Mural
On June 8, Ruth H. Green Elementary School unveiled a new mural on their building, painted by staff and students from the school. The mural was spearheaded by New Mexico teacher and founder of Kindness Club International, Melinda Forward.
The mural was a culminating event for Green Elementary, which introduced a school-wide kindness initiative at the beginning of the school year. “We did a book study on kindness last summer, held a forum with staff members in the fall, and held some professional development throughout the year,” said Principal Donna Ambrose. She said that the school incorporated year-long activities, including “Thankful Thursdays,” positive message rock painting, a monthly kindness tree, and an “It’s Cool to be Kind” March is Reading Month theme. “The staff and students have absolutely loved it and have embraced the activities introduced throughout the year.” Ambrose was introduced to Melinda Forward through Superintendent Mark Blaszkowski, who was a neighbor of Forward in high school. “Knowing the kindness culture that we have been working on this year, he thought that it would be a great fit,” said Ambrose.
Painting of the mural started at the beginning of June with first and second graders painting the blue background. “We put them in old t-shirts, gave them rollers and brushes, and they painted the entire wall blue,” Forward said. Third graders then painted the green hills, followed by the teachers who came in one evening to outline images projected onto the wall. “The Kindness Club kids painted the trunk in gold, and the fourth and fifth grade students painted the butterflies and the leaves.” The kindergarten, first, and second grade students then came back and put their handprints on. “Everyone has put their part somewhere on the mural,” Forward added. Green Elementary fourth grade student Nevaeh Primm said that she enjoyed painting the mural. “Looking at the mural makes me feel like everybody in the world can change through kindness.”
The mural is on the south side of the building, facing the student playground. “An Amelia Earhart quote that reads ‘A single act of kindness spreads out roots in all directions’ accompanies the mural, which will help to remind kids to spread kindness each and every day,” said Blaszkowski. Forward said that the response to the mural has been amazing. “The students have been excited every day to see the progress. Middle schoolers walk by and comment, community members have stopped by and commented, and parents at the park with their kids - the response has been overwhelming.”
Forward said that the Kindness Club International began at the school where she was teaching in Albuquerque after students approached her about wanting to make a difference in their school. “We started the Kindness Club at our school, I started to invite other teachers and schools, and then it went international. Now schools from around the world can sign up. They adopt our challenges, get all the materials that they need, and watch videos to help them implement these projects at their schools.” She added that the murals are meant to bring all the students together. “Everyone has a role in changing their school environment - beautifying it, creating something that symbolizes community and transformation, and letting them all be a part of it.” Forward added that this is the first of more than thirty murals she has done outside of New Mexico but hopes to do more in Michigan. You can learn more about Kindness Club International at thekindnessclub.net.